Archive for January 27, 2011

Mutant mosquitoes: Malaysia release of genetically modified insects sparks fears of uncontrollable new species

January 27, 2011 Comments off

Malaysia has released 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes into a forest in the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue fever.

The field test is meant to pave the way for the official use of genetically engineered Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes to mate with females and produce offspring with shorter lives, thus curtailing the population.

Only female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread dengue fever, which killed 134 people in Malaysia last year.

Malaysia has released 6,000 genetically modified Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes into a forest in the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue feverMalaysia has released 6,000 genetically modified Aedes aegypti male mosquitoes into a forest in a bid to curb rates of dengue fever 

However, the plan has sparked criticism by some Malaysian environmentalists, who fear it might have unforeseen consequences, such as the inadvertent creation of uncontrollable mutated mosquitoes.

Critics also say such plans could leave a vacuum in the ecosystem that is then filled by another insect species, potentially introducing new diseases.

A similar trial in the Cayman Islands last year – the first time genetically modified mosquitoes Read more…

Thousands rally against government in Yemen

January 27, 2011 Comments off

SANAA, Yemen – Tens of thousands of people are calling for the Yemeni president’s ouster in protests across the capital inspired by the popular revolt in Tunisia.

The demonstrations led by opposition members and youth activists are a significant expansion of the unrest sparked by the Tunisian uprising, which also inspired Egypt’s largest protests in a generation. They pose a new threat to the stability of the Arab world’s most impoverished nation, which has become the focus of increased Western concern about a resurgent al-Qaida branch, a northern rebellion and a secessionist movement in the south.

Crowds in four parts of Sanaa have shut down streets and are chanting calls for an end to the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for nearly 32 years.

“We will not accept anything less than the president leaving,” said independent parliamentarian Ahmed Hashid.

Opposition leaders called for more demonstrations on Friday.

“We’ll only be happy when we hear the words ‘I understand you’ from the president,” Hashid said, invoking a statement issued by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali before he fled the country. Read more…

South Africa and China a match made in heaven

January 27, 2011 Comments off

Trade between China and South Africa is gaining momentum and for those companies who may have ignored this growing trade relationship in the past, are now forced to recognize the potential for doing business with China.
According to The China Inc meets SA Inc Business Forum, not only is there room for growth in trade between South Africa and China, but China is viewing the well-developed infrastructure South Africa provides as the key to unlocking the gateway into the rest of Africa.
In 2009, China surpassed the United States, to become South Africa’s largest export destination, whith trade between China and South Africa reached USD 16 billion in 2009.
With the signing of various cooperation deals in August 2010, by President Zuma during his State visit to China, this figure is expected to grow as China looks to export raw materials to fuel its booming economy.
The recent deals signed by Zuma focus on the mineral resources sector, railway development, construction industry as well as the mining sector and finally power transmission and nuclear power.
So for South Africa, doing business with China is good business my china. Far better than doing business with the US and Europe who are only looking for new markets for their goods without offering the same for our goods. This attitude by the developed world, the US in particular, is the reason the Doha negotiations are still deadlocked since 2001.
Its objective is to lower trade barriers around the world, which allows countries to increase trade globally. Talks have stalled over a divide on major issues, such as agriculture, industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers, services, and trade remedies. The most significant differences are between developed nations led by the European Union (EU), the United States (USA), and Japan and the major developing countries led and represented mainly by Brazil, China, India, South Korea, and South Africa. There is also considerable contention against and between the EU and the USA over their maintenance of agricultural subsidies—seen to operate effectively as trade barriers.
To think that it was the US that first proposed the removal of agricultural subsidies in the first place. Developing countries were first to foolishly remove the subsidies to their detriment.
So more trade between developing countries make better sense as they trade on an equal footing and there is very little chance of blackmail or brinksmanship.

Record U.S. deficit projected this year

January 27, 2011 Comments off

The still-fragile economy and fresh tax cuts approved by Congress last month will drive the federal deficit to nearly $1.5 trillion this year, the biggest budget gap in U.S. history, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday.

The grim forecast from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office came hours after President Obama called in his State of the Union address for Republicans and Democrats to work together to rein in record deficits that are pushing the national debt into uncharted territory. At $1.5 trillion, the deficit would equal 9.8 percent of the economy, the CBO said, making it one of the largest by that measure since the end of World War II.

Lawmakers scrambled on Wednesday to respond to the darkening budget picture, with Republicans pressing their call for sharp and immediate cuts in domestic spending. Twenty-one Senate Republicans, meanwhile, unveiled a plan to amend the Constitution to require balanced budgets, a top priority of the tea party movement.

Democrats resisted both initiatives, arguing that amending the Constitution, a lengthy process that requires a vote in all 50 state legislatures, would do little to address the current problem. They dismissed as “drastic” a proposal by House Republicans to slash $100 billion from the current budget, arguing that cuts of that magnitude would endanger a million jobs on public- and private-sector payrolls at a time when the unemployment rate already stands at 9.4 percent.

“We have to cut government, but Republicans are going at this with meat ax when what is needed is a Read more…

Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change, report find

January 27, 2011 1 comment

Himalayan glaciers are actually advancing rather than retreating, claims the first major study since a controversial UN report said they would be melted within quarter of a century.

Himalayan glaciers not melting because of climate change, report finds  

The Passu glacier in the Karakorum region of Pakistan Photo: ALAMY
By Dean Nelson, New Delhi and Richard Alleyne

Researchers have discovered that contrary to popular belief half of the ice flows in the Karakoram range of the mountains are actually growing rather than shrinking.

The discovery adds a new twist to the row over whether global warming is causing the world’s highest mountain range to lose its ice cover.

It further challenges claims made in a 2007 report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the glaciers would be gone by 2035.

Although the head of the panel Dr Rajendra Pachauri later admitted the claim was an error gleaned from unchecked research, he maintained that global warming was melting the glaciers at “a rapid rate”, threatening floods throughout north India.

The new study by scientists at the Universities of California and Potsdam has found that Read more…

ElBaradei returns to Egypt calling for democracy

January 27, 2011 Comments off

Self-exiled opposition leader publishes manifesto for toppling Mubarak regime: “It is time for a change; the only option is a new beginning.”

Democracy activist, Mohamed ElBaradei, is expected to return from Vienna to Egypt on Thursday following this week’s protests, laying out his manifesto for change in Newsweek.

“I am going back to Cairo, and back onto the streets because, really, there is no choice,” ElBaradei wrote. “So far, the regime does not seem to have gotten that message.”

Thousands of Egyptians protest against Mubarak

“The Egyptian people broke the barrier of fear, and once that is broken, there is no stopping them,” he explained.

“Each day it gets harder to work with Mubarak’s government, even for a transition,” ElBaradei wrote. “He has been there 30 years, he is 83 years old, and it is time for a change…The only option is a new beginning.”

“I have hoped to find a way toward change through peaceful means,” he added. “In a country like Egypt, it’s not easy to get people to put down their names and government ID numbers on a document calling for fundamental democratic reforms, yet a million people have done just that.”

“The regime, like the monkey that sees nothing and hears nothing, simply ignored us,” ElBaradei explained.

ElBaradei also laments media censorship in Egypt, explaining that he has “been out of Egypt because that is the only way I can be heard. I have been totally cut off from the local media when I am there.” Read more…

China Plans A New Mega City: Population, 42 Million

January 27, 2011 Comments off

A city the size of Switzerland? If China gets its way, yes.

Some ambitious apparatchiks in southern China want to combine 9 cities to create an urban area the size of New Jersey and Vermont combined.

The plan, announced in state media, would unite several existing cities in the prosperous Pearl River Delta region, including Guangzhou (12 million), Shenzhen (8.6 million), Dongguan (6.9 million) and six smaller cities. Together, these cities already account for about 10% of China’s economy, the Telegraph notes.

The Party’s planners hope improved transport links and better infrastructure be beneficial to the population and to greater economic efficiencies . Other areas in China are facing a similar gravitational pull to merge together, notably Beijing with its southern smaller twin Tianjin, already joined by a high speed train link.

Rich neighbors  Hong Kong and Macau will not join the super sprawl, but it’s safe to assume that they’d like to have a say in larger regional themes, like pollution control.

The godzilla-like territory has yet to be named.

Mount Kirishima volcano in Japan explodes violently

January 27, 2011 Comments off

By Brett Israel

A spectacular volcanic eruption is currently under way in Japan. The mountain Kirishima is firing red-hot magma and volcanic bombs into the air.

Mount Kirishima, a volcano on the southern island of Kyushu, began erupting on Jan. 26. A giant ash cloud poured from the volcano, prompting the Tokyo VAAC to issue an ash warning for places above 25,000 feet (7.6 kilometers).

Volcanic material shot from the crater, triggering pyroclastic flows, according to the blog Big Think.

Kirishima ejected volcanic bombs — lava fragments that are rounded as they fly through the air — more than a mile (2 kilometers) high from its vent, according to news reports. Images of the eruption show plumes of glowing material shooting a few hundred feet in the air. A volcanic vent is a gap in the Earth’s crust through which lava and volcanic gases can escape.

Kirishima technically refers to a larger group of volcanic vents on the island. These vents are quite active but mostly have small explosive eruptions. The latest eruption may be the largest since 1959.

See the ongoing eruption on the Kirishima webcam.   To view live volcano webcams from around the world click here.

Categories: volcano Tags: , , ,

Justice Department seeks to have all web surfing tracked

January 27, 2011 Comments off

Mandatory data retention ‘raises serious privacy and free speech concerns’

Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON — The US Justice Department wants Internet service providers and cell phone companies to be required to hold on to records for longer to help with criminal prosecutions.

“Data retention is fundamental to the department’s work in investigating and prosecuting almost every type of crime,” US deputy assistant attorney general Jason Weinstein told a congressional subcommittee on Tuesday.

“Some records are kept for weeks or months; others are stored very briefly before being purged,” Weinstein said in remarks prepared for delivery to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.

He said Internet records are often “the only available evidence that allows us to investigate who committed crimes on the Internet.”

Internet and phone records can be “crucial evidence” in a wide array of cases, including child exploitation, violent crime, fraud, terrorism, public corruption, drug trafficking, online piracy and computer hacking, Weinstein said, but only if the data still exists when law enforcement needs it.

“In some ways, the problem of investigations being stymied by a lack of data retention is growing worse,” he told lawmakers.

Weinstein noted inconsistencies in data retention, with one mid-sized cell phone company not keeping records, a cable Internet provider not tracking the Internet protocol addresses it assigns to customers and another only keeping them for seven days. Read more…

Tectonic Plates Collapsing under Pakistan and Indonesia – 20 Foot Drop in Shoreline on Java confirmed by Google Satellite

January 27, 2011 1 comment

2004 Indian Tsunami, Ring of Fire Earthquakes
The “Ring of Fire” of Earthquakes Erupting on the Seismic Map on December 29, 2004 when the Global 9.3 Sumatra Earthquake that Triggered the Indian Ocean Tsunami that killed up to 250,000 people

This Picture is Soon to Come Again but this Time it will be with Volcanoes and Earthquakes!

On January 17, 2011, it was reported that the 17,500 Islands Nation of Indonesia was flooding. Here on the Islands of Java, the largest regions of the world’s fourth most populous country, and the largest population of Muslims in the world.  This flooding would not seem unusual but experts there reported that there was no reason for the flooding that would account for the submergence of such a large populous area along the sea coastline.

It is true that there had been two weeks of raining in the mountainous regions of Mount Mandiri. Yet, the Chief Social Service NTT Piter Manuk admitted something was unusual. As he reported:

Piter Manuk – “Residents panic was triggered by the arrival of the flood that is considered not reasonable because there are no tributaries that pass through residential areas and for the first time this has happened in the history of Read more…